BOSTON MARU, prewar)

Tabular Record of Movement

© 2012 Bob Hackett and Erich Muehlthaler

15 May 1919:
Tsurumi, Yokohama. Laid down (yard number 15) at the Asano Shipyard as a 5,438 (later 5,477) ton cargo ship.

14 September 1919:
Launched and named BOSTON MARU.

11 October 1919:
Completed for Suzuki Shoten, Kobe.

Sold to Kokusai Kisen Kaisha, Yokohama (later Kobe).

21 January 1922:
BOSTON MARU is put in service on Kokusai 's Japan ~ Europe route.

August 1930:
Sold to Ishihara Gomei-Kaisha, Fuchu. Their principal business is transporting iron ore from Batu Pahat and Johore, British Malaya to Yawata, Japan.

Ishihara Gomei-Kaisha inaugurates shipping services on the Japan ~ Java, Netherland East Indies route.

28 November 1934:
Owners restyled Ishihara Sangyo Kaiun (ISK), Fuchu.

6 July 1935:
Under Government pressure, ISK, Nanyo Yusen and the Japan-Netherland East Indies services of Osaka Shosen (OSK) and Nippon Yusen (NYK) are amalgamated to form a new company, the Nanyo Kaiun K. K. (South Seas Shipping). The previous owners all take a share of the new company.

BOSTON MARU serves in ISK's freight and passenger service between Kobe, Osaka, Moji, Yawata, Nagoya, Yokohama and Singapore.

23 September 1941:
Requisitioned by the Imperial Army as a troop transport/cargo ship (IJA No. 820).

17 December 1941:
At 2200, departs Dairen for Singora in 4th Malaya Reinforcement Convoy consisting of BOSTON, SHUNSEI, TAIAN and FUKUYO MARUs. En route, the convoy calls at Mako, Pescadores.

7 January 1942:
4th Malaya Reinforcement Convoy arrives at Singora.

30 July 1942:
BOSTON MARU departs Saeki for Saipan with transport DAIFUKU (TAIFUKU) MARU escorted by Desdiv 4's ARASHI snd HAGIKAZE,

6 August 1942:
Arrives at Saipan to pick up LtCol Ichiki Kiyonao's detachment of the 28th Infantry Regiment.

7 August 1942: American Operation "Watchtower" - The Invasion of Guadalcanal, British Solomons:
Rear Admiral (later Admiral) Richmond K. Turner's (former CO of ASTORIA, CA-34), Amphibious Task Force 62, covered by Vice Admiral (MOH/later Admiral) Frank J. Fletcher's Task Force 61 and Rear Admiral (later Admiral) John S. McCain's Task Force 63's land-based aircraft, lands MajGen (later General/MOH/Commandant) Alexander A. Vandegrift's 1st Marine Division on Florida, Tulagi, Gavutu, Tanambogo and Guadalcanal opening the campaign to retake the islands.

That same day, BOSTON and DAIFUKU (TAIFUKU) MARUs depart Saipan for Truk.

12 August 1942:
Arrive at Truk.

16 August 1942:
At 0500, DesDiv 4's ARASHI and HAGIKAZE, DesDiv 15's KAGERO and DesDiv 17's HAMAKAZE, TANIKAZE and URAKAZE depart Truk for Guadalcanal as the first echelon of a reinforcement convoy carrying 917 men of LtCol Ichiki Kiyonao's 28th Infantry Regiment.

The second echelon of the reinforcement convoy, also at 0500, departs Truk consisting of BOSTON and DAIFUKU (TAIFUKU) MARUs carrying 1,100 men of Ichiki's Regiment escorted by light cruiser JINTSU and patrol boats PB-35 and PB-34. Rear Admiral (later Vice Admiral) Tanaka Raizo in JINTSU is in command of the convoy.

17 August 1942: At 0700, Armed Merchant Cruiser KINRYU MARU departs Truk carrying about 800 troops of the No. 5 Yokosuka SNLF in the third echelon escorted by subchaser CH-24 and patrol boats PB-1 and PB-2. Later this day, DesDiv 24's KAWAKAZE, SUZUKAZE and UMIKAZE join the second echelon en route to Guadalcanal.

18 August 1942:
About noon, KINRYU MARU and her escorts join the second echelon still en route to Guadalcanal.

19 August 1942:
Cape Taivu, E of Lunga Point, Guadalcanal. At 0100, the first echelon lands LtCol Ichiki´s troops.

20 August 1942:
At midnight, Ichiki's troops storm Guadalcanal's "Henderson Field" in a frontal assault to retake the airfield, but almost all of Ichiki's men are cut down by U. S. Marines machine-gun and rifle fire. Ichiki commits suicide.

21 August 1942:
That evening, Tanaka receives a signal from Headquarters, Eighth Fleet indicating Vice Admiral (later Admiral) Kondo Nobutake's Second Fleet and Vice Admiral (Admiral, posthumously) Nagumo Chuichi's Third Fleet will support Tanaka's reinforcement convoy consisting of the second and third echelons.

22 August 1942:
Second and third ecehelons resume southward course after having reversed direction for a while due to the uncertain situation.

24 August 1942:
At 1100, the reinforcement convoy is now 55 km southeast of Ontong Java Islands, course southwest.

24 August 1942: The Battle of the Eastern Solomons:
At 1230, Tanaka's force sights light carrier RYUJO, covered by CruDiv 8's TONE and DesDiv 16's AMATSUKAZE and TOKITSUKAZE. Later, RYUJO launches two strikes against Henderson Field. At 1357, RYUJO is attacked by aircraft from Fletcher's TF 61's USS SARATOGA (CV-3). RYUJO is hit by four bombs and a torpedo hit that floods her starboard engine room. At 1800, RYUJO capsizes and sinks.

CarDiv 1's SHOKAKU and ZUIKAKU launch aircraft that find and damage ENTERPRISE (CV-6). That evening, aircraft from SARATOGA damage seaplane carrier CHITOSE. The same night, DesDiv 15's KAGERO, DesDiv 17's ISOKAZE, DesDiv 24's KAWAKAZE and DesDiv 30's MUTSUKI and YAYOI shell Henderson Field, then race northward to join Tanaka's convoy.

25 August 1942:
150 miles N of Guadalcanal. At 0600, six USMC Douglas SBD "Dauntless" dive-bombers attack JINTSU. A bomb hits JINTSU's forecastle and starts fires that cause her forward magazines to be flooded. Rear Admiral Tanaka is injured and shifts his flag to KAGERO.

At 0607, another group of airplanes attack KINRYU MARU. The ship is hit by a 1,000-lb bomb amidships in her aftship and goes up in flames, the fire ignites loaded ammunition which blows up in a huge explosion. Her embarked troops are evacuated by DesDiv 30's MUTSUKI and YAYOI and patrol boats PB-1 and PB-2.

At about 0835, MUTSUKI scuttles blazing KINRYU MARU with a torpedo at 07-47S, 160-13E. Shortly afterwards, MUTSUKI is attacked herself by three USAAF B-17s. The destroyer receives one direct hit and sinks at 0944. Destroyer YAYOI rescues the survivors. At 2000, the remaining convoy incl.uding BOSTON MARU alters course to Shortland Island.

26 August 1942:
At 2100, the remnants of the Guadalcanal reinforcement convoy arrive at Shortland Island Anchorage.

21 October 1942:
Unescorted convoy “Y” departs Saigon for Rabaul consisting of BOSTON, HOKKO, SANKO and FUSHIMI MARUs carrying the main strength of the 21st Independent Mixed Brigade (IMB). BOSTON MARU carries 700 men of the 170th Infantry Regiment, 21st (IMB).

South China Sea. The convoy encounters gale force winds and takes refuge at Manila.

24 October 1942:
Departs Manila, now escorted by subchaser CH-20.

5 November 1942:
In the afternoon, the convoy arrives at Guam.

8 November 1942:
Departs Guam.

12 November 1942:
Arrives at Palau. JOHORE and HOKUSHO MARUs join the convoy.

16 November 1942:
In the morning, departs Palau, now escorted by destroyer OITE. At 1115 (JST), a submarine is discovered. At about 1500 (JST), BOSTON MARU is hit by two torpedoes at 06-16N, 135-19E. At about 1600 (JST), she sinks taking down 16 crewmen, two gunners and 228 soldiers. There are 472 survivors, but all, their equipment is lost. The 170th Infantry Regiment’s colors are also lost to the sea. Distraught over this, the regimental commander attempts suicide on OITE, but the destroyer's “suicide prevention duty surveillance officer” foils his efforts.

Seconds after firing her torpedoes, LtCdr Kenneth C. Hurd‘s (USNA '25) USS SEAL (SS-183) is rammed by FUSHIMI MARU which sustains light damage. SEAL’s periscopes and adjacent conning tower areas are damaged and she is forced to terminate her war patrol.

22 November 1942:
The remainder of the convoy arrives at Rabaul.

Authors' Note:
Thanks go to John Whitman for the antecdote about the 170th Infantry Regiment and its colors.

Bob Hackett and Erich Muehlthaler

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